Asia Minor, Caria, Rhodes Island, AR drachma, 1st century BC.
Vs. Helios head in front
Rs. Rose with shoot. Contemporary imitation
Historical : Helios on the coins of Rhodes.
According to mythology, Helios, because he was late in distributing the earth, received the island of Rhodes, which had just emerged from the sea.
The veneration that Helios received on Rhodes was enormous and extended into mythical prehistory.
The coins of the Greek poleis were previously in the tradition of the archaic period and had animals, plants, recessed squares and rectangles. The idealised portraits of the gods were only later included in the image programme of ancient Greek die-cutting art.
Helios only appeared numismatically after the new capital Rhodes had been founded at the end of the 5th century BC.
The blossoming rose also only became the dominant image motif on the reverse of the coin with the invention of a "new" type of coin.
Why the rose in connection with Helios?
The rose was sacred to the sun god. Even in antiquity, its fragrance and oils were considered beguiling and sensual. The plant, which was cultivated early on, was very popular and well-known as an ornamental plant in the gardens of the entire Mediterranean region and the Orient as far as India.
The rose is also said to have given Rhodes its name, and not only Helios is associated with it, but also Aphrodite, the goddess of love.
The Helios head of Rhodes probably goes back to the depiction of the nymph Arethusa and the Syracusan die-cutter Kimon. The unique feature of the Rhodian depiction of the gods is therefore solely the transformation of a female coin portrait into a male one, which, as can be seen, the Rhodian die cutters succeeded in doing excellently.
(Text according to: M.K. Sonntag:)
Revision B.F. / Emporium Hamburg